October 25, 2014 SUFFERING IN SILENCE Dear Brandon, I’ve known for a while that my parents are getting a divorce. I really want to tell my friends, but I still feel weird about the whole thing. They’ve noticed that I’ve been kind of down at school lately and they keep asking me if I’m okay. Do you think I should tell them? Suffering In Silence Hi Suffering in Silence, I really feel for what you’re going through, and I’m glad you wrote to me, since you’re technically not suffering in silence anymore. (True, you didn’t literally tell someone else, but you did share the details, and clicking computer keys make a little sound!) I think it’s an awesome idea to tell your friends, and you could consider this your practice run in letting someone in. I know it’s a lot easier to tell a complete stranger, since you don’t have to see me every day, but one thing will be very similar if you tell your friends: you’ll feel a sense of relief. Right now, it probably feels like you’re wearing a backpack full of bricks, by yourself, in the middle of the desert – and by that I mean, you probably feel weighed down, alone, and lost. Telling your friends won’t change that you’re going through a tough time, and it might not make this whole divorce thing any less sad or scary. But it will probably make you feel a little stronger, like you’re not on your own with all of this stuff. And they might be able to relate. Maybe some of their parents have been through divorces, or their aunts and uncles or grandparents. And maybe they have some really good advice from going through it themselves. If they’ve never been through it, they might have no idea what to say, and they may end up saying stuff that sounds unhelpful and kind of dumb, like, “Keep your chin up, sport.” (People call you “sport” a lot when you’re dealing with something that stinks – I have no idea why!) But they’ll still be there for you, for whatever you need. If you want to talk, they’ll listen. Or, if that’s too weird and you just want to get your mind off of it, they’ll be totally down to shoot hoops with you. (Maybe that’s where “sport” comes from!) If it still feels a little weird to open up to them, maybe just tell one friend. And do it kind of casually. It doesn’t need to be this crazy dramatic afterschool special scene, where you pour your heart out with sappy music in the background. You could just say, “Hey, did I mention my parents are getting divorced? Yeah, the whole thing feels totally weird.” Quick, to the point, and it gets it out, like ripping off a Band-Aid. Then, if that goes well, you’ll probably feel a lot more comfortable telling other people – and hopefully, you won’t be suffering as much after that. I hope this helps a little!